On screen, there is nothing more exciting than a well-executed car chase sequence. There are massive explosions, multiple vehicles, and a lot of them involve Mel Gibson performing swash-buckling stunts as he jumps from vehicle to vehicle in the open air of the freeway. In reality, car chases aren’t nearly this exciting. The bulk of them occur at normal speeds as a driver simply tries to find a way to elude police vehicles. Generally, the vehicle is always a pretty typical car as opposed to a suped-up Lamborghini or something strange like a city bus. There might be some resulting damage to property or other vehicles, but people are seldom hurt in these chases. A lot of them are even cut short by spiked strips that police can throw in the road. Drivers also tend to flee the vehicle and the intensity drops short due to a foot chase through neighborhood streets.
Despite the fact that chases in the real world aren’t nearly as exciting as the ones in movies, there have been a number of headline making chases that found themselves on television news or car chase programs. These chases generally have elements to them that make them more akin to the chases we see in movies and video games. There might be a non-traditional vehicle involved, an act of heroism, or an unbelievable amount of resulting damage.
Let’s take a look at some of these “famous” chases that made the news and television for their more extreme and unexpected elements.
14. Real Life GTA V: Denver Man Engages In Chase With Three Different Vehicles.
This police chase that made the news in Denver, Colorado is something straight out of the insanely popular Grand Theft Auto series of video games. To begin the chase, the driver steals a red van. For whatever reason, the driver stops, gets out of his stolen red van, approaches another van with a family inside, forces the family out, and makes off with their van. Later, the driver ditches the silver van to try and jack a BMW (while the cops are in pursuit, mind you) but the attempt fails and he makes it back to the stolen silver van. He drives the wrong way on the highway multiple times and smashes into other drivers, seemingly on purpose. He uses one of these collisions to pretend he was in an accident with another driver, and then jacks that driver’s car. Like most chases, this one ends with failed foot chase.
13. Two Teenagers Engage In Chase To Save Kidnapping Victim
Two Texas teens, Aaron and Jamal, were on their way to pick a friend up from work. When the two boys were stopped at an intersection stop light, they noticed an attractive female in the backseat of the vehicle in the lane next to them. Being teenage boys, Aaron and Jamal decided to spend some time checking her out. While they did this, they noticed the driver begin to look worried, and one of the boys noticed her mouthing the words “help me”. As the vehicle sped off, they noticed the woman hitting the back window of the vehicle. The two boys called the police and tailed the vehicle. Eventually, the driver noticed he was being followed and he tried to lose them. The boys remained on the kidnapper until police vehicles arrived to continue the chase.
12. A High-Speed Chase With A Flaming Lumber Truck
This is the kind of chase you only ever expect to see in the movies. Most car chases involve the same steps – the driver heading into oncoming traffic to elude the police, driving through parks and lawns to elude police vehicles, dodging road spikes, etc. In this chase, the driver steals a lumber truck and at one point during the chase, the lumber does what lumber does best – burns. The driver actually makes his getaway in a flaming lumber truck! The flames get so intense that a flaming tire tears from the vehicle and rolls over anything in its path. At one point, the driver hits a car and injures a child. Knowing that this man is now willing to hurt anyone that gets in his way, the police manage to shoot the driver through the truck window. The officer hits his mark while chasing the truck on foot!
11. Man Steals Bait Car – Hilarity Ensues
This news-making police chase didn’t have much in the way of wild and reckless driving but it makes up for it in hilarity. A carjacker tries to steal a vehicle that ends up being a police bait car. Bait cars are generally left in areas where a large number of cars are being reported as stolen. The car is usually left with the keys in it, and it can be shut down remotely by police. The thief bails when the car shuts down and makes his way to a golf course on foot. This is where the man steals his getaway vehicle – a golf cart! The thief has no idea where he’s going and drives aimlessly through the golf course for several minutes. The newscasters can’t do anything but make jokes and mock the man through the bulk of the coverage. When the police can’t quickly access the golf course, course maintenance workers give pursuit in a second golf cart!
10. A Simple Traffic Violation Turns Into Wild LA Chase
Police stop a man for a simple traffic violation – a failure to yield. Instead of just accepting the ticket, the driver engages in a very reckless attempt to escape the police. One can only assume that the driver must have some prior convictions or warrants that would have landed him in jail or prison. While most chases are reckless, they generally have a very desperate feel to them. The drivers aren’t particularly skilled and just seem to be winging it. This driver on the other hand seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve and pulls off some rather impressive driving maneuvers as he eludes the officers a number of times before he’s eventually caught.
9. Man Steals School Bus and Engages in Chase With Students On Board
This chase in Arkansas is another outrageous pursuit that sounds more like a scene from a movie rather than something that actually happens in the real world. Nicholas Miller was trying to flee from the police when he made a last ditch effort that totally exacerbated the situation he was already in. Nicholas hijacked a school bus at knife point. Now, on top of the trouble he was already in, Miller now had 12 counts of kidnapping added to his list of charges – one for the bus driver and eleven for each child that was still on the bus. After the chase, Miller held the children and driver hostage on the bus for a solid twenty minutes.
8. Man Crashes Into Teen Car Thief When Chase Gets Dangerous
This news-making chase comes with a terrifying video taken from a witness cell phone. The cell phone footage shows a number of children playing in park. The woman taking the video begins screaming frantically for all the children to get out of the way. Just as all the children make their way off the grass, you see why the woman was so frantic – a white car comes barreling through the middle of the park at an astoundingly high speed. Eventually the thief finds himself in a high speed chase with police.
The thief was a 14-year-old who had stolen his grandfather’s car and went out for a joy ride with little regard for who he might hurt. Since the teen was clearly willing to kill children, a man took it upon himself to get into his much larger truck and crash into the teen head-on in an attempt to stop the dangerous chase. The attempt worked and neither the driver of the truck or the teen car thief were hurt in the collision.
7. Skateboarder Steals BMW – Then Stopped By Reality TV Star
This chase has a couple of weird elements to it that you almost can’t believe it wasn’t scripted! A car thief steals a BMW and in the grand tradition of carjacking, a high speed chase ensues. The thief wasn’t very skilled as a driver and found it difficult to elude police. That’s when he has a brilliant idea – leave the vehicle and continue the chase on the skateboard he found in the vehicle. The man clearly isn’t much of a skateboarder either and his only escape will be making it into the neighborhoods. This plan is quickly ended by a driver who uses his large red truck to block the thief in between a fence and the pursuing police vehicles. The driver of the truck turned out to be Luis Pizarro, the star of the reality show Operation Repo. Strangely enough, the show was about recovering vehicles.
6. World’s Longest Police Chase
In Ontario, Canada, a man stole a truck and the obligatory chase with police ensued. As the reporter on the story puts it, it wasn’t a high speed chase so much as it was a “long follow”. Not much happened in the way of destruction or near fatal collisions with other drivers. The reason this chase made the news is because it was one of the longest car chases of all time. The chase went on for over five hours, covered roughly 300 miles, and took place over a number of highways.
5. 12-Year-Old Engages In Reckless High-Speed Chase
If you thought the car chase with a 14-year-old driver seemed like a young age for a joy-riding car thief, then get a load of this news-making chase from North Carolina. The thief in this chase isn’t even a teenager. He’s only 12-years-old! The kid puts the pedal to the floor and engages in a chase at over 90 miles per hour. At one point you hear an officer on the dash cam say “104 miles per hour” and later say “he’s gotta be doing 120 now!” Elements of the chase look like something out of the Dukes of Hazzard, especially when the kid gets some impressive air as he flies over railroad tracks. The driver seems to have no regard for cross-walks or stop lights at busy intersections. Miraculously, the chase ends with a major collision that the boy survives with little injury.
4. Man in Custom Armored Vehicle Destroys Colorado Town
This chase wasn’t much of a chase at all. For the bulk of the “chase” the cops had to keep their distance and just stare in disbelief. A man named Marv Heemeyer had a few screws loose and felt that a number of people in his small town had wronged him. Marv’s revenge plan was something along of the lines of a super-villain’s scheme. Over a number of years Marv built a custom armored bulldozer in a secret workshop. The vehicle had two-inch thick steel plating all over its body, it had a number of mounted guns, and a whole command center on the inside with monitors to see what was happening around the vehicle. Marv destroyed every business where he felt he was wronged or owned by someone he felt wronged him. He destroyed their homes as well, including the home of a former mayor. The town was nearly leveled and damages were in the millions of dollars. By the time police cars were able to close in on the vehicle, officers couldn’t even break the seal to arrest Heemeyer. Eventually, Marv took his own life.
3. Man Drives Tank Through San Diego
Here’s another chase that seems more like something out of the Grand Theft Auto series of video games. In the game, the player can eventually gain the opportunity to steal a military tank. No longer is the notion of stealing a tank and attempting to level a city relegated to video games. In San Diego, a man with a history of mental problems made his way into a military installation and stole a tank. Once he was inside, he revved up the engine and just drove aimlessly through the city. He crushed cars like soda cans under a foot, took out a number of light posts, fire hydrants, and caused serious damage to a few homes and buildings. Police eventually had to leave their cars and just climb on the tank to remove the disturbed individual. All of the destruction happened over a mere ten minutes. Miraculously, no one is hurt.
2. Baby Thrown From Car During High Speed Chase
This absolutely has to be seen to be believed. A man has a fight with his girlfriend and decides to take their infant child and leave. The girlfriend calls the police and a 95 mile per hour high speed chase ensues. When the man can see a cop alongside his vehicle, he points the baby out to the officer, presumably in an attempt get the cops off his tail for the sake of the child. Eventually the man slows down and begins to open the door while the car is still in motion. The man tosses the baby (in a car seat) out of the car and onto the middle of the highway and then floors it. Officers stopped just in time and made it to the baby. Somehow the infant didn’t even suffer a scratch. Shortly after letting the baby out, the man intentionally crashed his car at full speed. He was pronounced dead three days later.
1. OJ Simpson and the Infamous White Bronco Chase
Very little actually happened during this infamous chase. However, the aerial coverage of the event kept people glued to their television sets for hours. It’s easily the most famous car chase of all time.
In 1994, actor and football star O.J. Simpson was a major suspect in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson claimed he had zero involvement in the double homicide, but nevertheless had his friend Al Cowlings drive him to the airport. A low-speed chase ensued (it was more of a follow). Simpson sat in the back of the vehicle with a gun and talked to the police over his cell phone. Simpson eventually gave him up. One of the biggest televised trials of all time followed. The media circus that surrounded the trial could quite possibly have been the biggest of all time.